'If Ashton spends a season with me he could play a lot of Test cricket' Greg Matthews said. Photo: Jonathan Carroll
Greg Matthews wants Ashton Agar to continue being his own man despite the youngster falling foul of officialdom as part of Cricket Australia's stance on player discipline this season. And Matthews has declared he can help the left-arm spinner have a long Test career by rejoining forces with Agar.
Matthews does not want to see Agar, who won the public's hearts while hitting a breathtaking 98 batting at No.11 on Test debut, become a ''generic'' modern athlete. Matthews lauded Shane Watson as a player comfortable to speak openly and frankly about issues but said he was a rarity.
Matthews was stunned Agar was sanctioned for dissent for staring at an umpire after being given out, although the 20-year-old later pleaded guilty and accepted a one-match suspension. ''For looking at an umpire, golly, I don't know, that's pretty funky,'' Matthews said.
Agar is the latest player to be punished by CA this season. Others have been sanctioned for code of behaviour breaches ranging from dissent, abuse of equipment, obscene language and detrimental public comment. CA has wanted to bring the domestic game more in line with ICC standards this season.
Matthews was no friend of officialdom during his career although his contribution to cricket was recognised by Cricket NSW last year when they inducted him into their Hall of Fame.
Matthews wants to renew his partnership with Agar, whom he advised during the Ryobi Cup.
Agar has found life tougher in his second season, averaging 48 with the ball and 17 with the bat at Shield level. He has also been overlooked for all forms of the game by the same selectors who handed him a shock call-up last year.
''If Ashton spends a season with me he could play a lot of Test cricket, and it wouldn't take him a season, he'd get it pretty quickly,'' Matthews said.
He wants to see Agar shelve the ''flying saucer'' where he spreads his arms in his approach to the crease. ''Hands close together, hands wide apart, when do you have most control?'' Matthews said. ''History tells you, you have to be extra, extra good to overcome those deficiencies.''
Matthews wants to take Agar ''back to kindergarten'' so they can discuss and analyse his game. ''You don't want to make robots of everyone but what you are trying to do is take them to a place they don't know exists because they're not doing it,'' he said. ''He's a good man and you know with good people he'll do OK but also because they'll get things quicker.''
Agar's manager Jason Bakker said the bowler had learnt from his indiscretion. ''Part of the learning process is to know and understand where the boundaries are,'' Bakker said.